We had a couple in last night who took an interest in the old cognacs that we have on the list. The Massougnes 1810 and 1802 are two pre-phylloxera cognacs from what was the largest cognac house of its era. Unfortunately they were bankrupted by the phylloxera outbreak and forced to sell off the majority of their land and holdings, retaining only some more profitable cabbage fields. Back then the eaux-de-vies were distilled prinicipally from Folle Blanche, but since phylloxera Ugni Blanc and Columbard have become the dominant grapes partly due to Folle's resistance to grafting onto American rootstocks.
The 1802 is the oldest known cognac from Massougnes, and is considered to be their best. It is quite hazy and possesses a fine sediment. On the nose it is clean with quite a sharp raisin and floral pear aroma. On the palate is is quite rough with an unpleasant bitter earwax finish.
The 1810 however is much finer, and in my opinion the better of the two cognacs. It has a rich golden amber colour, sparklingly clear. On the nose there is a kind of walnut whip kind of aroma with dark chocolate and a hint of spicy orange. On the palate it is amazingly smooth, with a building warmth from the alcohol and a long lingering finish that slowly fades away.
It is quite difficult assigning a price to a glass of something so old and historical. This was made as Napoleon marched his armies across Europe, three years before the battle of Trafalgar. There is very little of it left, less that five bottles are known to exist. In theory it should get more expensive with each measure sold as it gets rarer. But if youve got £395 burning a hole in your pocket, you too can taste a bit of history with a 50ml glass of 1810 Massougnes. Not bad eh!!